Friday, July 1, 2011

Can we please cancel them?

During a speech earlier this week Obama threatened that if we didn't change the depreciation schedule on private jets,
then the kinds of cuts that would be required might compromise the National Weather Service. It means that we would not be funding critical medical research. It means that food inspection might be compromised. And I’ve said to some of the Republican leaders, you go talk to your constituents, the Republican constituents, and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break. And I’m pretty sure what the answer would be.
This was, in fact, an important theme of the conference, having been repeated almost verbatim in two parts of the speech. Lots of people are making much of the fact that a change in the depreciation of private jets isn't going to yield a billion dollars, let alone the hundreds of billions those programs eat up. There's also the issue that we somehow managed to give kids scholarships, pay for medical research, and fund the National Weather Service and the FDA on the $2.9 trillion Bush spent in 2008 ($240 billion deficit) instead of the $3.55 trillion Obama spent in 2010 ($1420 billion deficit). I don't think it is generally realized that the "stimulus" wasn't a one time expense, it was a permanent, massive increase in the federal budget, from which Obama now claims we can't possible retreat. But that's not the point of this post.

Also, I happen to agree with Obama that the special depreciation scale Obama proposed and the Democrat Congress passed in 2009 as part of that stimulus for private jets was a bad idea and should be scaled back. Unlike Grover Norquist, I only care about tax rates, not breaks. Special credits are fiscally indistinguishable from spending programs. But that's not the point of this post either.

The point of this post is that not one of the programs the President mentioned is within the Constitutionally defined role of the Federal Government. If it takes keeping an awful airplane depreciation scale to defund the NWS (excepting those areas where it is important for defense, which can be rolled into the defense department), the FDA, Federal funding of medical research, federal interference in education, and things having to do with kids' safety, then I'll keep the depreciation.

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